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A simple remark yet it baffles the awesome
Thread poster: Alan Wang

Alan Wang  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 22:46
English to Chinese
+ ...
Jan 20, 2012

Awesome professional qualifications plus more than one chance for a second thought and the connections to ask the still-better-informed, yet the conviction and the wrong translation lasted for some 30 years in print.
该翻译家根据wiki介绍为:
Xu Liangying (traditional Chinese: 許良英, simplified Chinese: 许良英), b 1920, is a Chinese physicist, translator and a famous historian and philosopher of natural science in China.

1953年,在致斯威泽(J. E. Switzer)的信中,爱因斯坦谈到科学的起源:
“The development of Western science has been based on two great achievements,the invention of the formal logical system (in Euclidean geometry)by the Greek philosophers,and the discovery of the possibility of finding out causal relationships by systematic experiment (at the Renaissance).In my opinion one need not be astonished that the Chinese sages did not make these steps. The astonishing thing is that these discoveries were made at all.”
商务印书馆1976出版的许良英译:
“西方科学的发展是以两个伟大的成就为基础,那就是:希腊哲学家发明形式逻辑体系(在欧几里得几何学中)以及通过系统的实验发现有可能找出因果关系(在文艺复兴时期)。在我看来,中国的贤哲没有走上这两步,那是不用惊奇的,令人惊奇的倒是这些发现(在中国)全都做出来了。”

问题在于最后一句:The astonishing thing is that these discoveries were made at all.”

在不断收到对这句话译文的质疑之后,许先生本人83年“经再三考虑后”把它改成虚拟式:要是这些发现果然都做出了,那倒是令人惊奇的事。

2005年 “终于认识到自己固执己见的错误”, 把译文改定如下:
在我看来,中国的贤哲没有走上这两步,那是用不着惊奇的。作出这些发现是令人惊奇的。”

不愧是爱因斯坦,一句简单的话也能使中国的科学家兼翻译家摸不着北。难道专业知识兼语言/翻译能力+awesome名头也不太靠得住?


 

ysun  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:46
English to Chinese
+ ...
许良英先生的大师风范 Jan 20, 2012

Alan Wang wrote:

2005年 “终于认识到自己固执己见的错误”, 把译文改定如下:
在我看来,中国的贤哲没有走上这两步,那是用不着惊奇的。作出这些发现是令人惊奇的。”

不愧是爱因斯坦,一句简单的话也能使中国的科学家兼翻译家摸不着北。难道专业知识兼语言/翻译能力+awesome名头也不太靠得住?

“终于认识到自己固执己见的错误”这话是谁说的?如果我没搞错的话,这话正是许良英先生他自己说的。这就是大师的风范,难道不值得我们学习吗?尽管鹰有时飞得比鸡还低,但鹰毕竟还是鹰!


 

wherestip  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:46
Chinese to English
+ ...
Nobody's Perfect Jan 20, 2012

“人非圣贤,孰能无过? 过而能改,善莫大焉。”

再者,对从来没有在以英语为主的国家长期工作、生活的人来说,偶尔在英语理解上出个偏差是在所难免、情有可原的。

同意 Yueyin 说的,许老先生 勇于承认翻译细节上的差错,令人钦佩。 这种谦虚谨慎、实事求是的科学态度才是值得后人学习的。


[Edited at 2012-01-21 02:06 GMT]


 

James_xia  Identity Verified
China
Member
English to Chinese
+ ...
翻译如做产品 Jan 21, 2012

很是赞成上面ysun和wherestip的观点!翻译在很大程度好比工厂里生产线。做产品没有不出错的,再小心的“人”都无法避免的,即使不考虑翻译成本的情况下同样如此!另外,翻译又好比小作坊,在缺少相互反复校对审核的流程时,大师出错也是可以理解的。但他们毕竟还是大师,更是普通的人。只是,他们错可能一般不易被别人发现,但实力永远在那儿不容小视的。

 

Alan Wang  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 22:46
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
我们这儿 Jan 21, 2012

实际上是别人翻译对了,是他在自己加上了(在中国)三字,改错了。这就导致有人怀疑是所谓“李约瑟情结”作怪。怀疑也有点道理。李约瑟的《中国科学技术史》把中国古代科技吹得神乎其神,而许先生正是中国自然科学史家。巧合吗?

 

ysun  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:46
English to Chinese
+ ...
莫须有的“李约瑟情结” Jan 21, 2012

Alan Wang wrote:

实际上是别人翻译对了,是他在自己加上了(在中国)三字,改错了。这就导致有人怀疑是所谓“李约瑟情结”作怪。怀疑也有点道理。李约瑟的《中国科学技术史》把中国古代科技吹得神乎其神,而许先生正是中国自然科学史家。巧合吗?

你是想说许良英先生怀有“李约瑟情结”吗?关于这一点,还是看看许老先生自己是怎么说的吧:
http://sourcedb.cas.cn/sourcedb_scr_cas/zwqkk/gwqkwz/200911/t20091123_2673786.html
对于何君文中刻意强调的“李约瑟情结”问题也不妨说几句。在《爱因斯坦文集》出版的70年代,李约瑟在中国的影响不大,我们不知道李约瑟对中国科学史有什么独特见解,也没有听说什么“李约瑟难题”。事实上,所谓“李约瑟难题”,即中国为什么没有产生近代科学,这个问题我在大学三年级(1941年)时就组织同学讨论过,并已得到解决。那时李约瑟还未到过中国,也还没有这个“难题”的影子。1944—1946年间,浙大两位教授陈立、钱宝琮和校长竺可桢相继发表了讨论这个问题的专门论文。由此可见,我们译爱因斯坦这封信,与“李约瑟情结”无关。

许良英先生从1962 年开始编译《爱因斯坦文集》。《爱因斯坦文集》第一卷于1976年出版。须知,在这段时期内,许良英先生还是一位戴着右派分子帽子在浙江老家劳改的农民(但不是“翻译民工”)。尽管身处逆境,他仍然从事这项艰巨的工程,真不愧是一只雄鹰!

我认为,中国人不应妄自尊大,“把中国古代科技吹得神乎其神”,但也不能妄自菲薄,否认中国(也就是你们那儿)在世界科技发展史上的地位。也许这就是我的中国情结吧!icon_biggrin.gif


 

nigerose  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 22:46
Chinese to English
+ ...
拍砖 Jan 22, 2012

Alan Wang wrote:


1953年,在致斯威泽(J. E. Switzer)的信中,爱因斯坦谈到科学的起源:
“The development of Western science has been based on two great achievements,the invention of the formal logical system (in Euclidean geometry)by the Greek philosophers,and the discovery of the possibility of finding out causal relationships by systematic experiment (at the Renaissance).In my opinion one need not be astonished that the Chinese sages did not make these steps. The astonishing thing is that these discoveries were made at all.”
商务印书馆1976出版的许良英译:
“西方科学的发展是以两个伟大的成就为基础,那就是:希腊哲学家发明形式逻辑体系(在欧几里得几何学中)以及通过系统的实验发现有可能找出因果关系(在文艺复兴时期)。在我看来,中国的贤哲没有走上这两步,那是不用惊奇的,令人惊奇的倒是这些发现(在中国)全都做出来了。”

问题在于最后一句:The astonishing thing is that these discoveries were made at all.”

在不断收到对这句话译文的质疑之后,许先生本人83年“经再三考虑后”把它改成虚拟式:要是这些发现果然都做出了,那倒是令人惊奇的事。

2005年 “终于认识到自己固执己见的错误”, 把译文改定如下:
在我看来,中国的贤哲没有走上这两步,那是用不着惊奇的。作出这些发现是令人惊奇的。”

不愧是爱因斯坦,一句简单的话也能使中国的科学家兼翻译家摸不着北。难道专业知识兼语言/翻译能力+awesome名头也不太靠得住?


试拍1:
the discovery of the possibility of finding out causal relationships by systematic experiment 翻译成“通过系统的实验发现有可能找出因果关系”也是错误的。
原文这个长短语的结构应该是:
the discovery (of the possibility of finding out causal relationships by systematic experiment),discover与前面的invention相对应,代表前面所述的“two great achievements”
可以翻译成:发现通过有计划的实验可以揭示事物的因果关系

试拍2:
In my opinion one need not be astonished that the Chinese sages did not make these steps. The astonishing thing is that these discoveries were made at all.”
原译有点直译和语气不太顺,试译:
在我看来,中国先贤们未能作出这些成就不足为奇,值得惊奇的倒是西方居然作出了这些成就。
(这里discoveries应指“two great achievements”)

大家可以对我的“试拍”再拍砖,但请不要拍我个人。这个论坛文人气太重,结果冷冷清清。

[修改时间: 2012-01-22 11:16 GMT]


 

wherestip  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:46
Chinese to English
+ ...
基本同意 Jan 22, 2012

nigerose wrote:

试拍1:
the discovery of the possibility of finding out causal relationships by systematic experiment 翻译成“通过系统的实验发现有可能找出因果关系”也是错误的。
原文这个长短语的结构应该是:
the discovery (of the possibility of finding out causal relationships by systematic experiment),discover与前面的invention相对应,代表前面所述的“two great achievements”
可以翻译成:发现通过有计划的实验可以揭示事物的因果关系

试拍2:
In my opinion one need not be astonished that the Chinese sages did not make these steps. The astonishing thing is that these discoveries were made at all.”
原译有点直译和语气不太顺,试译:
在我看来,中国先贤们未能作出这些成就不足为奇,值得惊奇的倒是西方居然作出了这些成就。
(这里discoveries应指“two great achievements”)

大家可以对我的“试拍”再拍砖,但请不要拍我个人。这个论坛文人气太重,结果冷冷清清。


nigerose,

1) I agree. Overall, your translation more accurately reflects what Einstein stated.

But I also think that the original Chinese terms “系统的”、 “可能找出” were pretty good choices, and really could be left alone.

2) Not to split hairs, but IMO, it was "humankind" that Einstein was referring to that made the discovery. The way I read it, he was marveling at humankind's scientific achievements in general, while also alluding to the fact that historically the Chinese stagnated in this regard. Yet I don't perceive any denial or disparagement in his words of China's earlier contributions to science and technology.


I'm no historian, but to me, these words sound like some casual observations Einstein made in some private correspondence, in which he pointed out the two important/crucial steps, or factors, he believed that led to the great development of Western science.


[Edited at 2012-01-22 20:29 GMT]


 

wherestip  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:46
Chinese to English
+ ...
No need to hang onto a person's every word Jan 22, 2012

Even if the person is world famous, or happens to be the head of state with a lot of power.icon_wink.gifhttp://www.todayinsci.com/E/Einstein_Albert/EinsteinAlbert-Quotations.htm


[Edited at 2012-01-22 20:25 GMT]


 

nigerose  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 22:46
Chinese to English
+ ...
更准确 Jan 23, 2012

wherestip wrote:


2) Not to split hairs, but IMO, it was "humankind" that Einstein was referring to that made the discovery. The way I read it, he was marveling at humankind's scientific achievements in general, while also alluding to the fact that historically the Chinese stagnated in this regard. Yet I don't perceive any denial or disparagement in his words of China's earlier contributions to science and technology.


I'm no historian, but to me, these words sound like some casual observations Einstein made in some private correspondence, in which he pointed out the two important/crucial steps, or factors, he believed that led to the great development of Western science.


[Edited at 2012-01-22 20:29 GMT]



也许你的理解更准确。但没有上下文,我不能确定。

[修改时间: 2012-01-23 01:41 GMT]


 

wherestip  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:46
Chinese to English
+ ...
FWIW Jan 23, 2012

nigerose wrote:


也许你的理解更准确。但没有上下文,我不能确定。


Thanks. In this kind of usage, the emphasis is often more on the incredibility factor of the action or the fact itself, much less on the entity that effects the action or fact. For example,

It's not surprising that the jury found him not guilty; what's surprising is that he was indicted at all.

It's not surprising that there was an acquittal; it's surprising that the case was not thrown out in the first place.

It's not odd that you hate it; it's odd that it's still on the menu at all.

...


Happy Chinese New Year to you and everyone else, BTW. icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2012-01-24 13:19 GMT]


 

Alan Wang  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 22:46
English to Chinese
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TOPIC STARTER
The Needham Puzzle Jan 23, 2012

Nigorose的翻译显然更准确到位。
这句的主体很明显是Western science,应该加上“西方”。
如果有人认为这个主体是humankind,也不妨一笑置之。

另外,徐先生说李约瑟难题(或同一问题)在四十年代就在他课堂上讨论并得到解决,也是不准确的。从八十年代开始好像就有几次大型学术会议讨论它,五花八门的原因都提出过,后来还是几乎不了了之。大概没有人能提出更信服的结论。最后还是某人提出,这是个伪问题。不合适的问题。这才算是“解决”了它。


 

wherestip  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:46
Chinese to English
+ ...
一笑置之 Jan 23, 2012

Alan Wang wrote:

Nigorose的翻译显然更准确到位。
这句的主体很明显是Western science,应该加上“西方”。
如果有人认为这个主体是humankind,也不妨一笑置之。

另外,徐先生说李约瑟难题(或同一问题)在四十年代就在他课堂上讨论并得到解决,也是不准确的。从八十年代开始好像就有几次大型学术会议讨论它,五花八门的原因都提出过,后来还是几乎不了了之。大概没有人能提出更信服的结论。最后还是某人提出,这是个伪问题。不合适的问题。这才算是“解决”了它。


See my answer above. Laugh all you want.icon_biggrin.gif


 

Alan Wang  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 22:46
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
ok Jan 23, 2012

Your clarification does make sense.

wherestip wrote:

Alan Wang wrote:

Nigorose的翻译显然更准确到位。
这句的主体很明显是Western science,应该加上“西方”。
如果有人认为这个主体是humankind,也不妨一笑置之。

另外,徐先生说李约瑟难题(或同一问题)在四十年代就在他课堂上讨论并得到解决,也是不准确的。从八十年代开始好像就有几次大型学术会议讨论它,五花八门的原因都提出过,后来还是几乎不了了之。大概没有人能提出更信服的结论。最后还是某人提出,这是个伪问题。不合适的问题。这才算是“解决”了它。


See my answer above. Laugh all you want.icon_biggrin.gif


 

wherestip  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:46
Chinese to English
+ ...
Einstein's words Jan 23, 2012

I think people are creating a debate by misinterpreting the thrust of what Einstein was trying to say.

IMO, Einstein was not comparing cultures nor assigning credit. Instead he was pointing out the crucial role the tools that he mentioned played in scientific research. Without the discovery of the approach of applying logic and the method of trial and error, new ground in scientific research would have never been broken. And all the wisdom of ancient sages would have remained just that.


 
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